Local food systems and direct-to-consumer marketing through farmers markets, farm stands, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) programs have flourished across the U.S. over the past several decades. Once viewed as a fad or niche part of the food sector, local food systems and direct marketing agriculture are now an integral part of American agriculture and food producing communities, from Lincoln Nebraska to Portland Maine.
The important work of connecting farmers and ranchers to local/regional consumers and markets has been in part driven by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) competitive grant the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP). FMLFPP funds direct-to-consumer marketing strategies and also provides support for local and regional food business enterprises (such as food hubs) acting as intermediaries between producers and consumers.
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) awarded $27 million in grant funding to support 93 local food projects for fiscal year (FY) 2020.
FMLFPP actually consists of two subprograms: the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) and the Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP), each awarded $13.5 million. Last week’s announcement included 49 FMPP awards and 44 LFPP awards. FMPP supports projects such as farmers markets, community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, roadside stands, pick-your own operations, and agritourism. LFPP’s focus is on processing, distribution, aggregation, storage, and marketing of locally or regionally produced food products sold through intermediated marketing channels.